When the women’s pole vault got under way Saturday afternoon at the Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships in LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium, Georgia’s Morgann LeLeux had just one goal in mind.
The goal for LeLeux, a freshman from New Iberia, wasn’t to beat indoor and outdoor collegiate record holder Tina Sutej of Arkansas. It was to jump a career-best 4.50 meters, or 14 feet, 9 inches.
“I told her to get me over 4.50,” LeLeux said after winning the title with a personal-best of 14-63/4. “It wasn’t about beating Tina.
“It was about the goal. I didn’t get that, but I got the win so I’m pretty excited.”
Competing on the same track she racked up five state titles on during her high school career at Catholic of New Iberia, LeLeux took the victory on fewer misses as Sutej also cleared 14-63/4 — 63/4 inches off the collegiate mark of 15-11/2 she set in winning her second consecutive SEC title last May.
Throughout the competition, LeLeux said she didn’t think about what Sutej was doing and focused only on what she had to do in front of dozens of cheering family members and friends.
“I just kept thinking about what height was next,” LeLeux said. “(Sutej) is a senior and I’m a freshman. The goal is never to beat anyone … the goal is making the next bar.”
Nugent seeks third title
LSU All-American hurdler Barrett Nugent will try to make school history Sunday on the final day of the SEC Championships.
Nugent, the reigning NCAA 110-meter hurdles champion, moved one step closer to a third straight conference title Saturday when he easily won his preliminary heat in 13.50 seconds to earn a spot in the final.
Nugent, a senior from Maurice, will be trying to break a tie with former Tigers Jim Gilliland and Larry Shipp with two SEC hurdles titles in a row.
Gilliland (1941-42) and Shipp (1974-75) won two straight in the 120-yard hurdles with Shipp’s second one coming just two years before the SEC switched to the metric system.
The third preliminary heat of the men’s 400 meters featured the reigning U.S. and Jamaican national champions.
Florida’s Tony McQuay, the American champ, captured the heat in 45.88 seconds, while LSU’s Riker Hylton finished second with a season’s-best time of 46.05.
They will hook up again in Sunday’s final as McQuay automatically advanced, while Hylton got a spot based on time.
LSU unveiled this week a new way for meet officials to get throwing implements back to the athletes more quickly and efficiently with a small remote-controlled car.
LSU coach Dennis Shaver approached the school’s electrical engineering students to design and build a remote-controlled vehicle after seeing something similar to it at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Officials in the field retrieve the implements in the hammer, javelin and discus and put them in the “car” for a ride — which keeps officials from having to carry them all the way back to the throwing area.
Former Arkansas coaching legend John McDonnell is serving as the running referee for the SEC Championships, while former LSU assistant coach Boo Schexnayder is referee for the field events and combined events.
Longtime Catholic High School track coach Pete Boudreaux, a member of the LSU Track & Field Officials Association Hall of Fame, is one of three men serving on the jury of appeals.
On the net
Live streaming video of running events from the final day of the meet on Sunday will be available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at www.ESPN3.com.